by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At last December’s IFL World Team Tournament Finals one of the biggest surprises of the evening was Quad Cities Silverbacks middleweight Ryan McGivern defeating fan-favorite veteran Matt Horwich of the Portland Wolfpack, helping the Silverbacks repeat as IFL Champions.

McGivern was coming off his second straight loss whereas Horwich was riding a two-fight winning streak. So when Ryan was able to control the Wolfpack fighter en route to a unanimous decision victory, it capped off a tumultuous year that saw McGivern break into the bigtime, struggle, then rebound in strong fashion.

“It was a rollercoaster for sure,” said Ryan of his 2006. “There were some pretty cool ups and definitely some downs.”

McGivern continued, “I was real happy with how the inaugural tournament went, and then I had a rough start to the last tournament. I was happy for our team to win [the second tournament] and to finish on a good note. It would have been beyond frustration to go 0-3 in the tournament that your team wins.”

Despite personal highs and lows, Ryan feels that being a part of the IFL made the entire year a success and he’s enthusiastic to begin his second year with the promotion.

“I will say this, it was a real fun experience, just getting to see how everybody is behind the scenes of the IFL was cool,” exclaimed McGivern. “It’s not just like the founders, Kurt Otto and Gareb Shamus, but everybody you come in contact with in the organization really believes in the IFL.”

“They really believe in every one of the fighters so it’s really cool to see everything develop and to see what they have lined up for 2007 is going to be some really cool stuff,” added Ryan.

What’s lined up first for McGivern and the Silverbacks is their first IFL show of the year this coming Friday, February 2nd in Houston, Texas, as they take on another of the original four IFL teams, the Bas Rutten-coached Los Angeles Anacondas.

Even though both teams generally remain the same from last year, the Silverbacks will be temporarily missing a key component to their two IFL Championships, welterweight Rory Markham.

According to Ryan however, the team is unfettered and confident they can continue to succeed, thanks to their legendary coach Pat Miletich’s conditioning of the squad.

“Missing Rory definitely puts more on our shoulders because we don’t know what’s going to happen in that fight,” admitted Ryan. “It’s a sad deal but Pat’s got our heads going in the right direction, so we know what we need to do to get right back to business.”

McGivern further commented, “Me, personally, I’m training as I always train. I know Benji [Radach, Ryan’s opponent] is a really experienced fighter and I’ll just work on everything in my game and be in the best shape of my career so I can go in there and do what I’ve got to do.”

Should the Silverbacks defeat the highly-regarded Anacondas, it will make them the inside favorite to win an unprecedented third straight IFL Championship, something that Ryan is confident they can do.

“I believe so, absolutely [we can repeat as champions],” stated McGivern. “I know that’s how our mindsets are and that’s how we’re going [into this season].”

“At the same time, everybody is going to be training hard too because they want to do well against us. We know they’re gunning for us, but it pushes us to work harder and gives us more motivation to stay on top,” continued Ryan.

McGivern concluded by wanting to thank those who’ve helped make this past year a big year for him and to remind fans to check out the IFL when they make their Texas debut in Houston on February 2nd.

“I want to give a complete shoutout to everybody that’s watching MMA in general and the IFL. Huge thanks to everybody in the organization for their hard work,” said McGivern. “Personally, I want to give a shoutout to my friends, family and my fiancé for all their love and support, that helps me a long the way. Anybody around the Houston area, come out and watch, there’s going to be some battles.”